Choosing a course & FAQs

Woman pointing at a draft of a graphic novel

It’s important to read the course descriptions carefully. If it sounds like you’re the intended audience, then it’s probably the right course for you. Apart from the Retreats, Starting to Write and Work-in-Progress courses, our Open courses are suitable for writers at any level of experience.


If you have a burning desire to write but feel you have little experience, perhaps you are returning to writing after a long time away, or maybe you have writing experience in one field but are keen to explore a new genre, then a Starting to Write course would be ideal. The Starting to Write courses are designed to build your confidence within a supportive environment, providing you with the tools to inspire and develop your writing. We offer Starting to Write courses in specific genres and more general Starting to Write courses that include fiction and poetry writing. Starting to Write courses include workshops and one-to-one tutorials.

Find a Starting to Write course


We have a wide range of courses in specific genres e.g. Fiction; Playwriting; Short Story. Writers of all levels of experience are welcome on these courses. The weeks will have a focus on generating new writing rather than getting feedback on work-in-progress. Open Courses include workshops and one-to-one tutorials.

Find an Open Course


For writers who already have significant experience and would like to receive project-specific feedback as well as the space and time to write. We have Work-in-Progress courses in several different genres. Work-in-Progress courses include workshops and one-to-one tutorials.

Find a course


Like our Work-in-Progress courses above, but without morning workshops. Instead you will have four tutorials, two with each tutor, as opposed to two on normal courses. Tutored retreats are suitable for experienced writers, not beginners. We have Tutored Retreats in several different genres.

Find a Tutored Retreat


We recommend Retreats for the more experienced writer. All Retreats offer single rooms only. Otherwise, domestic arrangements are the same as for all courses. There is no tuition or tutors present. We have three types of Retreat:


The time and space to write with a group of up to fifteen other writers, sharing one of our three historic houses – The Hurst, Lumb Bank or Totleigh Barton. No workshops, no tutorials.

Find a Centre Retreat


Choose between four or six days in your own apartment at The Clockhouse, tucked away in the peaceful grounds of our Shropshire centre. Write, plan, walk, think, dream, edit, in solitude, away from it all with no distractions. The Clockhouse has four apartments in total. Writers Retreats are untutored.

Find out more about the Clockhouse

If you’d like help choosing the right course for you do give us a call, on 0204 529 4970, or email  – we love guiding writers to the perfect course for them!


How do I work out which course is right for me?

It is important to read the course descriptions carefully when making a decision about what course you want to do – most course blurbs give an indication of the intended audience.  If you feel you fit the bill then it is probably the course for you. Pick a course which is aimed at a level you feel comfortable at. If you have not done much writing before or none at all then a Starting to Write course might suit you best. If you already have a lot of writing experience then you may want to choose a more advanced course.

Whilst the tutors generally set the tone for the course, it is important to pick a course on the basis of subject matter first and foremost. Sometimes tutors have to pull out of courses at the last minute, for various reasons outside of our control, and we will always replace a tutor with someone in the field that the course focuses on.


Why do you have to apply to some courses and not to others?

A few courses may be selected courses. This is usually at the request of a particular tutor and is generally used to make sure students are at a similar level. Sometimes it will be because the course requires a certain skill from the outset  – for example,  some musical ability for Songwriting or another language for Translation.

What is the difference between Retreats and courses?

An Arvon retreat is the perfect opportunity to step away from day-to-day distractions and get a lot of writing done, whilst being in the midst of the supportive company of fellow writers.  All retreats offer single rooms only. Otherwise domestic arrangements are the same as for all courses. We have four types of retreat:

Tutored Retreat : Two tutors are present, who will be available for one-to-one tutorials, and a guest tutor on Wednesday.  However, there are no workshops in the morning,

Retreat :  There are no tutors present and participants are free to structure their creative time as they see fit.

Retreat with Yoga : This is structured in the same  way as a Retreat, except that you have optional hatha yoga and meditation sessions in the morning and evening with a trained instructor.

Friends’ Retreat : This Retreat is open to Arvon Friends at Arvon Laureate level and above (see Join-Arvon-Friends for more info).

How many people are in workshops?

Each course can take up to 16 people and workshops are run to include the whole group.

Do I have to go to each of the workshops?

The workshops are not compulsory but we would encourage you to go to all of them. Often tutors plan for each workshop to follow the next so missing one may disrupt the flow of the course for you and students tend to find that the more they put into the course the more they will get out of it.  If you do not feel that the workshop learning environment is right for you then you might want to consider booking a retreat or a tutored retreat.

How much of my work will tutors read?

Different tutors will read different amounts of work. It is unlikely they will have time to read more than a few pages but that is generally enough to give them a sense of your writing style and how to advise you.

How much one-to-one time do I really get?

You will have approximately 20 minutes with each tutor during the week, in which time you will be able to discuss your work. This time is exclusively for you to get advice on your writing and is a valuable part of the Arvon experience.

Will I have to read my work in front of complete strangers?

Workshops vary from course to course, tutor to tutor. You may be asked to read aloud in workshops and there is always a Friday night reading in which you will be encouraged to read from the work you have done throughout the week. This may seem daunting at first but by the end of the week you’ll have got to know your group and each person will be in the same position. The reading on the last night is a celebration of the week’s work and students usually find that sharing their work is an uplifting experience.

How many hours a day will we spend writing?

Workshops generally run for two or three hours each morning, sometimes you will be asked to write within them, and then the afternoons are free for your own individual writing time. You can use this time in whatever way you choose. Please see the schedule of the week for more details of how the weeks are structured.

Is there a library from which to draw inspiration?

Each centre has a library of books and other publications of various genres which you are free to look through and borrow books from while you there.

Is my level of experience right for this course?

Arvon courses are open to everyone, no matter what stage of their writing journey they are at. Arvon encourages people to write for the love of writing, not necessarily to be published or to make a career out of it but because we believe everyone should have the opportunity to give it a try and see where it takes them. You do not have to be good, you do not even have had to have tried it before; you just have to want to give it a go. If you pick a course pitched at a level that suits you then you will probably find that most people on the course are at a similar level to you.

How can I prepare for my course?

To get the most out of your course, we strongly recommend that before you arrive you familiarise yourself with some of the tutors’ work – it will make the world of difference. If, during the week, you would like your tutors to read some work that you have already written, please bring two printed copies. Be aware that it is unlikely they will have the time to read more than a few pages, but that is generally enough to give them a sense of your writing style and how to advise you.

Accommodation and Food FAQ

Everything you need to know about your room, what's provided, what to pack, accessibility, food and more.

What happens on an Arvon Week?

Most Arvon weeks run from Monday afternoon to Saturday morning. You’ll typically have a workshop each morning, and free time for writing and one-to-one tutorials in the afternoons. In the evenings we’ll host readings by the tutors and guest, and on the last night you’ll share your work with the group as part of a relaxed and friendly celebration.